Watford joins 12,000 in Learn to Play Day
On Sunday 22nd March local Watford music school “Music Gym” opened it’s doors for free lessons in support of National Learn to Play Day with over 200 people attending the event. The event is part of the charity “Music For all” to inspire people back into playing music for which Jools Holland is the Patron. This year’s Learn To Play Day had its most successful year yet, with more venues taking part, and even more lessons given, than ever. The event had its biggest year to date with 129 venues take part, and over 12,000 lessons were given to participants. Owners Jo Stevens & Alan Johnson said they were overwhelmed & thrilled by the interest in learning to play from kids to adults. Whilst over 50 drum and guitar taster lessons took place in the teaching studios a free concert of local performers from the school aged 9 to 65 opened with guitar and vocal duo Terry & Steve (who attend the school’s adult guitar club) getting the crowds going with “I wanna hold your hand”. Alan said “it’s important for everyone to remember the fun music can be, and not to stop playing or being in bands just because you think you’re too old- there’s no age limit! it’s relaxing, it’s fun, it’s creative and the social side is excellent.”
Contrasting with Steve and Terry’s performance was 9 year old Lily Sutherland from Bricket Wood who played keyboards & sang Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me”, with a tone and control of someone years older.
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill MBE attended the day, trying her hand at the drums and listening to the performances. Dorothy, who opened Music Gym in 2012, said “This special place is not just about acquiring music skills but about performance and gaining confidence, making friends and so much more. The progress from the youngsters was a pleasure to listen to”. Music Gym guitar teacher Jon Beck gave a spellbinding demo on electric guitar with a virtuoso rock performance showing advanced guitar techniques.
Owner Alan said, “It was a great day, people tried out instruments in lessons and many attended the live performance. It was inspiring to see how many people took up the offer of trying an instrument, music tends to take a backseat in modern life and education but it is a vital part of our education and culture and it can help people in so many ways, we need to try to keep the path open for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in musical activities”
Other student performances included Alicia Keys’ “If I ain’t got you” which was belted beautifully by Rhyanna Peters 15 from woodside, followed by Natalie Burch 20 who silenced the crowd with her poignant rendition of “Make You Feel My Love” . Natalie’s teacher Jo said “Natalie is an important part of our school, she is friends with everyone and takes her singing very seriously, she’s progressed so much, we are very proud to have her, she proves every week that you can overcome hurdles, she’s talented, determined and an inspiration to us all”
15 year old Ellie Hopkins gave a staggering and heart wrenching rendition of “I can’t Make You Love Me” Ellie has just been offered a place at West Herts College, Isobelle Brewer 13 wowed crowds with Ella Henderson’s ‘Yours”, Atul Kanodia,10, got crowds jumping to Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”, singers & guitarists Nishadi Gunasekara and Ryan Wiggins (Ryan recently performed at Autism’s Got Talent at the Mermaid Theatre in London) performed a mash up of “Where is the Love” and “Price Tag”, Louise Andrade belted Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” and 9 year old George Warden from who has been with Music Gym since the age of 6 played the technically challenging “Walk don’t run” on electric guitar like a pro!
The day ended with a free raffle of an Ashton acoustic guitar which was won by a very excited Deanna Coe, 12, from Abbots Langley who takes her grade 2 guitar exam this Thursday.